tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC December 5, 2012 9:00am-10:00am PST
shot down the theory of closing loopholes to cut the deficit saying it's exactly that. a theory. >> it is not possible for us to raise the amount of revenue that's required for a balanced package if all you're relying on is closing deductions and loopholes. it is possible to do theoretically. it is not possible or wise to do as a practical matter. >> the president then threw a left hook warning republicans who think they might be aim able to use the debt ceiling as leverage in future negotiations and saying essentially dream on. >> if congress in any way suggests that they're going to tie negotiations to debt ceiling votes and take us to the brink of default once again, as part of a budget negotiation, which by the way we have never done in our history until we did it last
year, i will not play that game. because we've got to break that habit before it starts. >> joining me now from the capitol dome, nbc's luke russert. i don't know, i think that was what we call officially laying the smack down over there at the business roundtable. i was really surprised that the president went out there on the debt ceiling debate which is something that he put in the initial package that tim it geithner took to the hill and seemed to be an anath matteau those in the gop. he seems to be saying look, we're not going to get this deal done without the debt ceiling in the package. >> it was fascinating, alex. so much has changed from 2011 when we heard from republicans that the boehner rule, i. efrmgts any extension of the debt limit must be matched by matching spending cuts the norm from now on. seems president obama does not want to play that game as he said. walking away from the press conference today withes the gop leadership on capitol hill, a x alex, they're still engaging in
the trench warfare. i asked speaker boehner about the $250,000 bush tax cuts, all the polling shows the country will think republicans are to blame if we go over the fiscal cliff, six out of ten voters in november said the tax rates should go up, how much longer can he afford to politically keep this pledge and he said look, you heard it there, the rates when we close the revenues, loopholes will go up on the rich people. that still is the mindset. what's interesting, is talking to republicans leaving the house conference gop conference this morning, there is a lot of support for speaker boehner. there aren't cracks like there were during the debt limit where he had a faction that was lining up against him wholeheartedly. even after yesterday we heard all the stuff of fallout from the conservative right against his position, that conference this morning was pretty supportive of speaker boehner and seem to be -- say something we say way too often here in washington, d.c., doubling down on the speaker's approach, at least here in early december.
>> everyone seems to be doubling down, luke. i mean the idea that now nobodies's moving at all. i thought it was interesting that boehner is adopting the rhetoric kind of fairness saying we're going to -- won't say the word tax but we're going to raise revenues on -- the rich are basically going to put the revenues on the table which is not something he would have said in 2011 by any stretch of the imagination. >> no, not at all. i think there is definitely -- the speaker's communication shop was mindful that that's not probably a bad thing to put out there to show that the speaker and president are not that far apart on the rhetoric. the backdrop of today's press conference, gop save jobs, save american jobs, really trying to create this -- the job creators they've said all along. the polling is a problem, alex. i've spoken to senior republicans that realize at some point their most likely going to have to give on the 250 or above rates. what can they get in return. is there something tangible they can take back to their conference and say look what we got, cpi change on the cost of
social security, medicare entry age raised with sizable entitlement benefits. that's literary where they are. can they get something big or go off the cliff? which a lot of democrats think now is not the worst thing in the world. gambling with the financial markets but hurting the gop and don't have to deal with what democrat told me is this constant utter nonsense that happens every time we have a budget negotiation. >> luke keeps referencing the polling, a "washington post"/pew poll that says 53% of the country will blame congressional republicans if be go over the cliff, 27% blaming the president. he is comfortable with those numbers which is why the swagger is the only word for it today at the business roundtable. >> absolutely. remember this is the second or third poll we've seen, so the republicans have had time to make their case and the public is not buying it. if you're the president, your hand is strengthened. there are polls that show
there's a national journal poll people want this balanced approach. you hear the president talk about the balanced approach. yes, it's a great thing they're willing to put revenue on the table, part of where the white house pushback has been, what does that mean? what kind of revenue. that's why the president is pushing back on the loopholes. that's not going to get us where we need to go. great now you can say the word revenue, but you know, let's get specific about what that means. the president knows he is operating with a very strong hand here. >> josh, you know, what's interesting is, we've seen republicans come to the table in the way they didn't last year and i thought it was interesting this morning on "morning joe," tom coburn saying basically i know we have to raise revenue and tax rates may be part of that. let's play the sound. >> personally, i know we have to raise revenue. i don't really care which way we do it. actually i would rather see the rates go up than do it the other way because it gives us a greater chance to reform the tax code and broaden the base in the future. to me i think they're arguing
over se mant it ticks. $800 billion is $800 billion. >> tom coburn he prefers for the rates to go up and a giant bolt of lightning did not strike him down when he said that. >> he's known for these. one of the members of the bowles-simpson commission who voted in favor of the plan which raised more revenue than anything on the table right now. i think he's more alert to the problems that republicans in the house are going to face and for all that john boehner talks about the rich and rich and trying to blunt that charge, it doesn't get him out of the fundamental trap of rates are going to go up on the rich. there's nothing he can bargain, there's no price he's looking to exact in reference to what luke said in exchange for that rate going up on the rich. so the problem is, it's going to go up on january 1st unless they essentially fold. the problem for republicans isn't sort of the size of the revenue or what they get in exchange, but just the fact that they as republicans don't believe they can get away with raising taxes and keep their
seats and playcate grover norquist. >> they will have to go home and explain to their constituents, many middle class people why they didn't defend them, why they basically put protecting the 2% over protecting the middle class. that is not a position you want to be in at christmas time. >> luke, the democrats will have to give up something, are they not? we know look, the republicans don't have a lot of leverage here, but if they're going to take the debt ceiling off the table, there's got to be something given on medicare and social security? >> if there is to be a big deal, then one would suspect yeah, they would have to. i think there is a group of folks on both sides that realize this is a significant moment where you could actually do something big if you wanted. but the issue seems here, alex, as long as there's no movement on the 250, what really can you do? i'll throw something out there and i think it's interesting you mention tom coburn. because you're starting to see somewhat of a divide between elder senate republicans who have been in d.c., understand how the parlor games operate, as opposed to the house republican
conference which is stedfast. we know boehner is a masterful negotiator. he's been in d.c. for over 20 years. he understands how things work. there's more folks in his conference, albeit divided who want him to hold the line. remember what mitch mcconnell did this past summer when he allowed a vote for the middle-class tax cuts to go through only the senate. didn't filibuster it. that passed. there is somewhat of a box the house gop is in in the sense that you could take the senate past middle-class cut bill and just move it forward and that would solve things if you could come up with something for the sequester as well. so you could see in theory maybe come later in december, older senate republicans folks like tom coburn, folks like lindsey graham that say look, they already passed it through the senate, let them pass it through the house, we can win politically on the optics saying we were against raising taxes, it's fine, maybe that's a solution and you will see that divide between the house republicans and senate
republicans. >> melinda, when the president went out there, though, and said we're not going to do this again in march, that would seem to be drawing a firm line in the sand. i mean if we have to do this again, if they do some sort of smaller package now and we have to revisit this, i'm not -- i don't think that plays well for either party. it also hurts democrats. >> it does. it plays far worse for republicans. i think this conversation, the longer it goes on, the more i'm convinced that we're going over the cliff. if you have the democrats saying absolutely we're not getting there without raising the rates on that top 2% and you have republicans saying that's a poison pill we're not doing that, then we're going to go over the cliff and it's going to be far worse for republicans. the polling you just cited. i mean i think what's astonishing is the republicans saying, it didn't hurt us last time when we didn't do anything, when we almost defaulted over the debt ceiling. didn't hurt you? i think when you look at the results of the last election, yes, they held the house with a lot of redistricting but even
with that redistricting i think that's going to be a lot tougher for them in two years if they do this. >> that is a really interesting point. the conventional wisdom is president obama ended up bloodied in that fight, ben, and in reality, i think you could take 2012 as a referendum on how that played out. >> absolutely. one of the things that's interesting about where we are here, we have something that's rare in washington which is a numerical accounting of where political leverage is. so we know where the starting point for boehner is. we know where the starting point for obama is. this is going to land, you know, 65% to obama, 75% to obama, and we'll be able to see where political leverage is right now. >> the pie is not cut up. luke russert, my friend, the sage of capitol hill, my celebrity doppelganger. >> check out melinda's column about notre dame. >> thank you. >> it is a good column. after the break, revenue on the table, check internal discord about entitlements check. a never-endings discussion about
taxes, check. sounds like washington is partying like it's 2011. really deja vu or could this be the beginning of a new story? we will go back to the future when we talk to congressman chris van hollen next on "now." [ male announcer ] when this hotel added aflac to provide a better benefits package... oahhh! [ male announcer ] it made a big splash with the employees. [ duck yelling ] [ male announcer ] find out more at... [ duck ] aflac! [ male announcer ] ...forbusiness.com. ♪ ha ha!
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that are facing our country on entitlement reform. >> sound familiar that? that was john boehner last year over negotiations over the debt ceiling fell apart. to understand what's going on during the hopeless fiscal cliff negotiations rewind to 2011 when boehner and president obama came within inches of a grand bargain, a deal that would have forced both democrats and republicans to eat their vegetables. in its comprehensive analysis of what happens during the secret negotiations, matt bai wrote -- the deal unraveled in large part because speaker boehner could not get his unruly caucus to go along with raising new revenue. fast forward to this year and
republicans now think that deal, the one they walked away from, sounds pretty good. they're using it as a basis for their current proposal. only problem. boehner had his chance. president obama now thinks he has the upper hand. according to the "washington post's" ezra klein, quote -- >> joining us now representative chris van hollen of maryland, ranking member of the house budget committee. great to have you on the program. >> great to be with you, alex. >> let's talk a little bit about 2011 versus 2012, which is to say, the republican party is a very different negotiating position than they were last year and as ezra outlines, it sounds like john boehner would probably readily accept the deal he had at one point with the president if it were happening
today. >> well, a couple things. the exact revenue level that the president was pushing for back in 2011, was subject to some dispute. the president was looking for $1.2 trillion, speaker boehner looking for $800 billion, but you're absolutely right, alex. what republicans are trying to do today is recreate at least some of what they thought the agreement was before, but times have changed. in addition to the fact that it's not at all clear exactly what that agreement would have been back then. but two things, number one, we're now about three weeks away from all the tax rates resetting. if republicans continue to take the position they have today, everyone's taxes are going to increase and as the president's been very clear and i think it's important for people to understand, he's saying 100% of american families and small businesses get tax relief on their first $250,000 on income and for income above that
amount, people would go back to paying the clinton era rates. the republican position with a few exceptions, like tom cole, is you know what, too bad. nobody gets tax relief. we republicans will hang out right for that 2%. >> let's talk about the president's position on this. times done changed is perhaps an understatement. my paraphrase of your words. the president in a "new york times" piece today calls attention to the way the president was talking about putting revenue on the table in 2011 versus 2012. he was talking about ending deductions and closing loopholes as a primary way to get revenue on the table which is a different position than he has now. play that sound for everybody so they can remember. sorry. it's a full screen. i will read the quotation. what we said was give us $1.2 trillion in additional revenues which could be accomplished without hiking tax rates but simply accomplished by eliminating loopholes, some deductions and engaging in a tax reform process to lower rates
generally while broadening the base. that is different from where the president is at now. is there currency to the republican argument that the president has moved the goal posts? >> what's happened alex, people actually crunched the numbers and do the math, and run through the tables, and it turns out that the math does not work unless you increase the top rates. one of the reasons speaker boehner has not spelled out how he would achieve the $800 billion. it's one of the reasons that, you know, presidential candidate mitt romney didn't want to tell the american people how he was going to do his tax reform. because it certainly is not possible to get to the revenue number that the president's called for, $1.6 trillion, be without raising the rates and i would point out that the bipartisan simpson-bowles commission assumes in their numbers that those rates will go up. so when they did tax reform, they did it from a starting point that assumed the revenue from those rates going up and the last point on the revenue i
would make, alex, the total amount of revenue called for in the bipartisan simpson-bowles commission report, is more revenue than the president's calling for at $1.6 trillion. and the president's $1.6 trillion is less than the $5 trillion that would come in over the next ten years if we go over the cliff. >> josh, i want to open this up to our panel in new york for a second. are we to believe then, as the representative van hollen says, that the numbers just weren't crutched appropriately in 2011 or -- i just think that is the most marked example of how dramatically this arrangement has changed. in the article he talks about the fact that the offer from boehner's office didn't talk about the $800 billion figure. it's such an inap matteau talk about putting revenue on the table. didn't want to get near the notion that any american would have to pay more taxes to the federal government. >> yeah. and remember, too, these negotiations last summer were in private. this wasn't something that
filtered out. there wasn't really a focus on what would that $800 billion in refb new be composed of? would it hurt the charitable interest deduction, the mortgage interest deduction. back then it was big round numbers. the other thing, during those negotiations as the congressman said, obama sort of came back to the table and if you talk to republicans, one thing that blew up those negotiations obama said he needed more revenue, needed $1.2 trillion and that fell apart. but the other thing that's changeds is simply that the american people have weighed in an election and re-elected the president and tilts the see-saw in what democrats would like in a larger revenue. >> the economy is in a different position, the president actually did sign into law a series of cuts, he's proposed a lot in his 2013 budget. it's not like he's been stagnant. we've been having this argument throughout the presidential campaign and guess what? as we keep saying, americans said we're not buying it. the conditions have changed, the economy has changed, i think the
outlook in the picture has changed. that's part of the reason the president is so firm about not going back to the debt ceiling conversation again and creating that level of instability and not bending on this issue of raisings the rates on the top 2%. >> yeah. i think -- >> go ahead. >> it's an important point. i think the american people are seeing that the president has already agreed to more than a year ago to that $1 trillion of cuts. that was 100% in cuts as part of the budget control act and he's always said we need a balanced approach. we can't do it through cuts alone. he has proposed additional cuts as part of the process but you need to have that revenue component to have the balanced approach. he has been insistent that we help our infrastructure and help the things that move the economy forward and it's interesting that republicans are so focused on this bonus tax break for 3 million americans but they have opposed or certainly been silent on the idea of extending for one year the payroll tax cut that
benefits 160 million americans and has a much bigger impact on the economy than the small tax breaks for the wealthy. >> congressman, before we let you go, i have to ask, a lot of attention has been paid to the infighting in the republican party as far as coming to the table on this deal. if there is a big package put forward, it is probably going to have some, as melinda says, poison pills for the democrats as well or at least things they're uncomfortable with. i guess, you know, there are two wings of your party that you probably have to get to the table, progressive democrats who are not going to want to see changes to the entitlement programs and centrist democrats a little uneasy with the notion of a tax increase, how concerned are you about getting your caucus in line? >> well, what we've said and the president has said, social security, for example, needs to be dealt with on its own terms. social security is owed over $2.5 trillion and we can work on the long-term solvency of social security but not going to raid social security for the deficit purpose. with respect to medicare, you
know, it's head spinning in the last four weeks, republicans have gone from complaining that the president saved too much in medicare, that whole $716 billion, to complaining he's not done enough. the difference on medicare is how you approach it. democrats want to modernize the system, focus on a system that rewards the value of care, not the volume of care. we want to bring overall health care costs down. the republican definition of medicare reform is pass the costs and risks on the medicare beneficiaries whose median income is under $22,000. so yes, we can continue to build on the approach we took in the affordable care act. that way you reduce health care costs in the system overall without simply passing the burden on to medicare beneficiaries. >> to be clear, no deal on social security but medicare on the table? >> let me give you a fact. if you look at the ten-year
window in the president's budget plan compared to the ryan republican budget plan, the president actually has more medicare savings in that ten-year window. for example, he asks the pharmaceutical companies to pay higher rebates so the federal government saves more money. he has a number of other reform measures. in the ten year e window, which is what some of our republican colleagues seem to be focused on, the president's budget achieves more medicare savings on top of the 716 than the ryan republican budget. it's just a very different approach. he doesn't believe that we should be passing those burdens on to seniors with median incomes in the range of $22,000. but he actually has more savings in that ten-year window. but a very different philosophy on how you go about doing it. one way you modernize the medicare system to focus on the value of care, not volume of care, whereas republicans define reform simply to be passing on those additional costs to seniors. >> congressman chris van hollen,
it is head spinning indeed. thank you for your time. >> thank you. >> coming up, one thing republicans learned from this election is that they need some other body's ideas when it comes to immigration. who knew that voice would surface in the form of former president george wnchgts bush. we'll bring you the return of w. next. lauren wanted to introduce the korean cabbage dish to mainstream america using her former skills as a marketer, she created mother-in-law's kimchi. she's using nonethnic packaging to appeal to a mass market and the product is carried in whole foods and fresh markets. for more watch "your business" this sunday morning at 7:30 on msnbc. [ male announcer ] this is bob,
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ask your doctor about once-a-day xarelto®. for more information including cost support options, call 1-888-xarelto or visit goxarelto.com. or treat gas with these after you get it. now that's like sunblock before or sun burn cream later. oh, somebody out there's saying, now i get it! take beano before and there'll be no gas. in a rare public appearance, the snuff love gus of the republican party, president george w. bush weighed in on immigration reform and bucked the self-deporting show me your papers rhetoric that has overtaken the gop in recent years. w. leaned on the sentiment of compassionate conservatism that first got him elected to the white house. >> not only do immigrants help build our economy, they
invigorate our soul. america can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time. as our nation debates the proper course of action related to immigration, i hope we do so with a benevolent spirit and keep in mind the trun countrybution of immigrants. >> he said immigrants will build, quote, a dynamic nation for this nation. the republicans need the support of immigrants to keep their party. latino voters broke for democrats 71 to 27. give those numbers which are abysmal at best for the republicans, are you -- well, a, the return of w., nice to see him. we always love playing sound from the former president. >> jon stewart will be happy. >> yes. >> will republicans actually embrace what george bush is calling for, which is a more inclusive spirit around
immigration reform and perhaps actual comprehensive immigration reform. >> they've moved further in the last month than previous decade, but here's w. reminding us what he did write, reminding us how he got elected and reminding us even though he's been marginalized a bit, a time when he you didn't hear a lot of republicans citing him, i mean he knew how to bring -- >> that time still exists today, i think, to a certain degree. >> but he didn't have these problems with hispanic voters. he did very well. from texas, he understands. he literally and symbolically threw his arms around hispanics and it wasn't that complicated. i think he's both -- when he says we have to remember the contributions of minorities, he's also saying and contributions of me. >> and keep in mind, when rick perry made it an issue of having a heart and compassion, he was ridiculed by the party for taking it there and now it's really interesting, it's a
testament to the sea change or well the results of the election, that george w. bush is, a, let out of the basement, and b, can say that without an insurrection in his party. >> but this is what bush has always done well. it's always that soul language. it's always that compassionate conservative inflection. what we're seeing here is through a process of whittling down through most of bush's other policies, sort of falling out of historical favor -- >> to say the least. >> bush has been whittled down to his legacy. what's interesting here is the long game with jeb bush and rubio in 2016. >> it's almost like he's laying the groundwork for his brother jeb bush, much more plow gressive stance on immigration. every time george bush comes out it's like a fork in the eye to the republican party because it's a reminder of what he did when he was president and he always had a more, you know, middle of the line stance when it comes to immigration. >> also a reminder of how divisive the immigration debate got in '05 and '06 where the
republican party really lost a lot of latino voters, the dnc, and it was staggering like evangelical latinos were calling us, right, who voted for bush. so it is -- yes, it's about his legacy but a reminder oh, yeah, you kind of screwed that up. >> and made your way. 27% -- as melinda said during the break, who are the 27% that voted for the republican party given the fact that mitt romney was running on the platform of self-deportation. >> this is a rare area where bush has been vindicated and legacy looks brighter today than it would have a couple years ago. >> slightly brighter. very dim bolt that flickers on and off. welcome back w. >> after the break, financial companies take heed. elizabeth warren heading to capitol hill and possibly back to her role as a financial watchdog. we will discuss warren's home coming and wall street's relationship with washington next on "now." [ woman ] ring. ring. progresso. in what world do potatoes, bacon and cheese
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head's up to wall street bankers. nemesis massachusetts senator elect elizabeth warren is likely to get a seat on the senate banking committee. the street had hoped that wouldn't happen. during the past year, the securities and investments industry contributed $3 million to scott brown's xap and only $245,000 to warren's. as warren railed against the abuses of wall street bankers. >> the system is rigged. look around. oil companies guzzle down billions in profits. billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. and wall street ceos, the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs, still strut around congress no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them. >> melinda, this is a bit of
poetic justice, right? elizabeth warren is going to be sitting in the senate banking committee, which oversees the consumer financial protection bureau the irony here is thick. i am fascinated to see what dynamic is in the senate with elizabeth warren there. >> sometimes karma comes quickly and she shows up wearing glasses and pearls. >> i mean she definitely will. the question is, you know, there are a lot of things still up in the air as far as dodd/frank and financial reform. how hard she's going to push. elizabeth warren has thus far been totally unapologetic about her views. >> here's what's amazing. that committee has traditionally been a group of people on democrats and republicans who are in the pocket of banks and wall street. and whatever else -- i mean look at the numbers and look at the votes. and this lady is not going to be. so they should be shaking and, you know, i hear -- >> your smile could not be broader as you say that, my friend.
>> and you know, so i hear them saying, well how much damage can she do us. >> we'll see. she can do some damage. >> still a lot of in terms of the rule making this is the stuff these guys are focused on and dodd/frank, capital requirements, some key issues. >> the volcker role rule. >> she knows this stuff as well if not better than they do. so yeah. >> her real talent, i sat in hearings with her and tim geithner, her ability to conduct a hearing, the performance and theater aspect, she's ripped geithner to shreds and has no fear of going after democrats, republicans and the like. it's partly that public aspengts, the aspect hearing what henry waxman did with tobacco executives she could do with wall street bankers and that's what should strike fear in some of these guys. >> i'm actually really curious to see how -- what the relationship between the white house and wall street and the business community is. and harold meyerson has a great op-ed in "the washington post" that ran yesterday, ben. i will read it to you. it says --
zing. harold outlines the top contributors to mitt romney, goldman sachs, bank of america, morgan stanley, jpmorgan chase and credit suisse. if you look at who donated to the president, university of california, microsoft, google, u.s. government and harvard university. if you talk about where ideas are coming from, and where sort of american innovation is headquartered, obama won it handily by 43% he won santa clara county where the high-tech companies are centered. >> sometimes stereotypes hold true, right? one of the things that's interesting in the context of the fiscal cliff also is where
not only financial companies not just the takers, but where ceos around the country cast their lot. one of the things that's interesting as january 1st approaches is to see, you know, the hysteria on cnbc and how that's adjusted. >> we're not saying anything bad about cnbc but go ahead. >> but do ceos continue to push a kind of, you know, low taxes mantra, kind of traditional fiscal sort of republican mantra or do they really say, we need a deal here, we're really to give and push republicans in that direction. >> and it would seem like they are willing to come to the table and meet the white house -- i mean first of all they lost basically. threw their lot with romney and romney lost. and the president understands that he has more leverage with them, but i think it's worth noting that, you know, he's at the business round table today, met with ceos last week, part of -- >> but the other points the business community, too,
recognizes they have something at stake. it's not just the fact they supported romney and he lost. >> right. >> it's that they watched a year ago as the house gop essentially deeped the economy. the fallout from the debt ceiling debacle was worse than any expert on wall street had predicted and that hit a lot of banks and companies hard and i think that they realize now and are more alive to the fact that they need to get involved and pressure republicans who are essentially, you know, part of their constituency not to go down that route again. >> it is a testament i will say to the president's reasonableness and this is the great reasonableness tour of 2012, that he is extending the olive branch to the degree that he is in these weeks. >> he also recognizes as you're saying, the business community can be an ally, it may seem like an unlikely ally but the business community understands if people are freaked out about what's happening with their fax taxes and money and return and they won't spend, that's bad for the economy and the businesses the banks are investing in.
there is a synergy here. the banks, a lovely headline, best profits in six years. they're doing just fine. >> sitting on trillions of dollars in revenue that they're not spending. it would be nice to have a little nudge nudge nudge. all right. melinda of the "washington post" has to leave us. >> thank you. >> thank you for being here. >> coming up, coming up, while congress debates the future of entitlements motor city mad men, emphasis on mad, ted nugent says the u.s. should disenfranchise americans who receive welfare. when did it become a bad thing to help the people who need it most. we will search for the crazy thing compassion just ahead. [ male announcer ] this december, remember -- what starts with adding a friend... ♪ ♪ ...could end with adding a close friend.
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our concerns are that an increasingly desperate assad regime might turn to chemical weapons. we have sent an unmistakable message that this would cross a red line. we believe, as you know, that their fall is inevitable. it's a question of how many people will die until that date occurs. >> that was hillary clintons this morning in brussels detailing the latest human rights abuses being carried out by the syrian government. the latest state department report on human rights labels syria as one of the worst offenders alongside iran, north korea and china. according to the london based syrian observatory for human
rights over 41,000 people have been killed in the nearly two-year conflict. meanwhile in cairo, clashes have broken out between supporters and supporters of morsi after he granted himself sweeping powers and passed a draft constitution that owe ponents say fails to protect justice and human rights kerry kennedy. thanks for joining the program. against the backdrop of syria and lesser extent egypt in terms of combatting grave human rights abuses around the world i wonder what you make of the american appetite as it stands given where we've been on certain issues after bosnia, rwanda, there was a sense we would not let these things go without attention and resources and you look at what's happening in syria and it's a complicated issue to be sure but is there an
american outcry to the extent that we would have expected to have one, given where we've been on human rights abuses in previous eras? >> i think there is a tremendous amount of compassion and concern by ordinary americans. i hate to say this on this tv show, but you're actually covering those issues and a lot of places just aren't to the extent they used to. i think that's part of the problem. but one example of that is right now, one of the issues we're really working hard on, is this anti-homosexually bill in uganda which would make homosexuality punishable by the death penalty. it's wound its way through the system, on the precipes of being passed. the speaker of the house of representatives says she's going to pass this bill as a gift to the people of uganda by christmas. so the next two and a half weeks are critical and we're not seeing enough of that and putting enough pressure on them, although i have to say, hillary
clinton has been just tremendous on this. >> and that's true. karen, you worked with secretary of state clinton before. and she has been certainly trying to push the ball forward on this. when we talk about the balance between domestic priorities and international priorities, the sort of the party line is, look in a time of economic calamity, americans are focused on what's happening at home and not on the global stage. that complicates our efforts to intervene abroad. >> hillary has been outspoken and well spoken about why it matters to us at home, in part because of our moral leadership in the world. that's part of what was tragic about the vote that happened yesterday in the senate with the u.n. treaty on people with disabilities. america has this opportunity to lead, we hear the republicans talking about why aren't we leading more and more with our moral leadership, by saying human rights are important and you have someone like secretary clinton out there talking about it, talking about rights of women and girls everywhere she goes in a way we've never seen or heard before, so i think there's a lot of compassion but i feel like our friends in the
senate need to kind of get withes the program because i think the country needs to send a stronger message internationally. >> well -- >> i have to say that i think americans realize you don't need a passport to work on human rights. and one of the big programs we're working on now is farm worksers rights. here in new york state, farm workers don't have the right to a day off per week, don't have the right to workers comp, don't have the right to form a union. you can be fired for trying to form a union here in new york and one farm worker i spoke to worked for ten years, 12-hour shifts, every day without a day off for ten years. >> the notion of human rights being an issue right here is something that we pay very little, if any attention to and when we talk about resourcing the fight to combat human rights abuses it's very much worth mentioning the fact that you guys are -- you have an auction going on right now, it started i believe yesterday and it has
some incredible, incredible items for sale which we must draw everyone's attention to. fly fishing for two with paul volcker in the catskills something benjamin wallace wells has always wanted to do. and an exclusive speech by bill clinton and a photo with him, which is actually priceless. lunch with obama body man reggie love which i think has set hearts aflame across the united states. >> you'red bying on that. >> i might be. >> and a character named after you and john irving's upcoming novel which i believe josh greene -- i feel like you've figured prominently john irving novels. >> will you be the villain or hero? >> probably depends on the size of your bid. >> informant. it's ongoing right now. >> yes. >> we're trying to dream up exciting item that maybe coming on set to visit with the "now" with alex wagner team should be up there. >> we're going to fix that.
that will be up there by dinner time. >> look at that. bid high, america. we have to leave it there. thank you to my panel, benjamin, kerry, karen, josh and melinda. that is all. i'll see you tomorrow noon eastern, 9:00 pacific when joined by richard wolf, michael eric dyson, brian anderson and rana fa roo har. find us at facebook.com/now with alex. "andrea mitchell reports" is next. good afternoon, andrea. >> good afternoon, alex. thanks so much. coming up next on "andrea mitchell reports" republicans strike down the disabilities act. the treaty on disabilities in the senate. we'll talk to senator john kerry about why he calls it the saddest day in his senate career. plus, the fiscal cliff standoff with republican congressman tom cole and former treasury official robert alman. senator maria can'twell tackles the spike on the east coast.
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